Historically, the euthanasia debate has tended to focus on a number of key concerns. According to euthanasia opponent , proponents of euthanasia have presented four main arguments: a) that people have a right to , and thus should be allowed to choose their own fate; b) assisting a subject to die might be a better choice than requiring that they continue to suffer; c) the distinction between passive euthanasia, which is often permitted, and active euthanasia, which is not substantive (or that the underlying principle–the –is unreasonable or unsound); and d) permitting euthanasia will not necessarily lead to unacceptable consequences. Pro-euthanasia activists often point to countries like the and , and states like , where euthanasia has been legalized, to argue that it is mostly unproblematic.
The essay was favourably reviewed in , but an editorial against the essay appeared in . From there it proved to be influential, and other writers came out in support of such views: Lionel Tollemache wrote in favour of euthanasia, as did , the essayist and reformer who later became involved with the , considering it a duty to society to "die voluntarily and painlessly" when one reaches the point of becoming a 'burden'. analyzed the issue in May 1873, assessing both sides of the argument. Kemp notes that at the time, medical doctors did not participate in the discussion; it was "essentially a philosophical enterprise ... tied inextricably to a number of objections to the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of human life".
Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary types can be further divided into passive or active variants. Passive euthanasia entails the withholding treatment necessary for the continuance of life. Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces, (such as administering a ), and is the more controversial. While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used. In some cases, such as the administration of increasingly necessary, but toxic doses of , there is a debate whether or not to regard the practice as active or passive.
In current usage, euthanasia has been defined as the "painless inducement of a quick death". However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia. In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.
Philosophical approaches to the dilemma of death with …
4) Rights do not demand to be exercised. We support the inalienable pursuit of Life but we do not support force-feeding life to citizens whom declare that they no longer want to participate in this pursuit for the ethically justifiable reasons stated in our case. We also grant citizen’s freedom of speech but does that mean they we should ban silence? Where governments allow dissent, it would be ludicrous to demand that all citizens must dissent in order to exercise their right. Instead, any theory of rights must protect the exercising of rights as well as the citizen’s choice to not participate, to not exercise their right. The right to life has to be forfeited at some point, and we support the right for our citizens to choose when they want to forfeit it. We see this in the status quo already - governments have ceased to consider suicide a crime. Why should assisted suicide for terminally ill patients be any different?
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In countries where euthanasia is currently legal, such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, strict legal guidelines are in place to ensure that the process does not include such problems. All patients who request euthanasia require the diagnoses of at least two doctors to verify the terminal nature of their illness, and undergo psychological examination by these doctors and often other experts to examine the reasons for their choice. It is not a situation of "Surely it is wrong to give one or two individuals the right to decide whether a patient should live or die?"; it is one of two medical professionals deciding whether the legal parameters allow them to enact the patient’s wishes. [[ Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs"A Guide to the Dutch Termination of life on Request and Assisted Suicide (review procedures) Act – April 2002" p3 Accessed on 01.06.09]]
"In summary, we have argued ... that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A's death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A's present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B's belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B's primary reason for intending A's death is cessation of A's (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A's death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A's death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A's death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism."
Philosophical approaches to the dilemma of ..
Similarly, Emanuel argues that there are four major arguments presented by opponents of euthanasia: a) not all deaths are painful; b) alternatives, such as cessation of active treatment, combined with the use of effective pain relief, are available; c) the distinction between active and passive euthanasia is morally significant; and d) legalising euthanasia will place society on a , which will lead to unacceptable consequences.:797-8 In fact, in , in 2013, pain wasn't one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.